I’ve been very AWOL recently, owing to selling the house, moving house, finding a new house etc. However we are now moved and settled, most boxes unpacked and I hope to be back to updating shortly. I have quite a few things I would like to get posting about, so fingers crossed I will be able to make some time. Thanks for sticking with me – hopefully normal service will resume later this week!
Can you believe that on June 26th 2017, JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” has been publish for 20 years?! It seems no time at all, since I discovered my love for Harry Potter and his Wizarding World but despite being 38 years old this weekend and having gotten both my daughters to love Harry Potter too, I find it hard to believe that it really has been twenty years since the start of my favourite book series.
That said, I wasn’t one of the first people to jump aboard the Harry Potter band wagon. In fact, when both my mum and dad were raving about the books, I was actually wondering what the hell was going on with all these adults loving a “kids book”. It wasn’t until 1999 (Philosopher’s Stone was 1997), not long after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published, that I finally caved to peer pressure and borrowed my parent’s copy of the first book. In typical “child” fashion, I hated to admit when my parents were right, but oh my god I loved the first book. So much so that it was read within a few days, despite working full time. Book two was then devoured within days, followed by book three. It was official, I was hooked. I was desperate for the fourth book… and I suppose that was when I truly became a Harry Potter fan.
Book Four – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was pre-ordered. When it arrived, I couldn’t wait to get reading and I literally didn’t put it down until I was done. This became the same for all the other books, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and finally The Deathly Hallows. I have never before, or since, been so hooked on a book series. And it didn’t end with just the books either. I went to see every movie that was released, if not on the very first day, within very few days of released. The Deathly Hallows Part 1 was released not long after my ex and I split up and having no one who was immediately free to go to the cinema with, I ventured for the first time by myself to see a movie – rather than wait too long and go with someone else. When the final movie was released, myself and fifteen other friends, all gathered for a party of sorts. We all went to the first midnight showing of the movie and some of us even got Deathly Hallows tattoos to remember the occasion – this was my first ever tattoo.
This week I have been to London and of course a visit to the Platform 9 3/4 shop is an essential part of that trip. Not only that, but as I mentioned earlier – I turn 38 at the end of this week and guess what I’m doing for my birthday? A trip to Watford and the Harry Potter Studios (it will be my third time!). I’m really a huge Harry Potter geek and I don’t care if I should be too old for it or whatever. I have loved Harry Potter for (almost) twenty years and I will continue to do so for at least twenty more. I have loved sharing the stories with my children and hope they will continue to share the books with their own children too. This weekend we are also attending MCM London Comic Con and they have pre-releases of the 20th Anniversary “house” editions of the Philosopher’s Stone and I’m so tempted to get one (or all of them…)! Harry Potter books are the one and only set of books I would never be parted with, over all the books I own.
As a final thought and conclusion to my post, I wanted to share this infograph, put together by Cartridge Save. It has loads of fun facts about most used words and phrases, along with how many copies have been sold and how many words are in each book etc. If you’re yet to read Harry Potter, no matter what the reason, I honestly recommend you give it a try! You have nothing to lose and a whole lot of love to gain!
Back in March it was Chris’ birthday and we never really know what to do for it as he’s one of those “I’m not really bothered” people. However I love to throw a party so I always want to try and do something. Over the time we’ve been together, we’ve had an Alice in Wonderland murder mystery, a board games night and also just going out for dinner with a group of friends. However this year we had tossed around the idea of an “Escape the Room” (sometimes called Exit Room). Having looked into it locally, to see what was available, we decided it was definitely something we could do, if enough of our friends were interested. Obviously there would be Chris and I, so that was already two and most rooms only allow for five/six people (some do go higher but it’s not common and some are even just five – which is awkward when you’re in couples!). We asked my friend Nat and her partner Dan, who Chris gets on well with, along with Chris’ friend Jon and his partner Becka. We also asked my brother and his partner, but they weren’t able to make it – which in the end turned out better with us only being able to accommodate six players. We did however decide to go out for dinner at Frankie and Benny’s beforehand and my brother (who is also Chris) and his partner Erika, came along to join us for that.
Before I get too ahead of myself, for those of you who are wondering “what is an escape room?” well the answer is fairly simple and pretty much as it sounds. You are placed in a room – and you need to escape. There are always varying scenarios, whereby you’re trapped, locked in etc and you need to find the way out. It’s not as simple as just finding the door, or a key etc. it’s supposed to last up to an hour and so it’s a series of clues and puzzles. Usually, the game is timed and you have 60 minutes – the concept being that you get locked in for good if you can’t escape in that time. However of course, they have to let you out so they can continue to let other people play – but it’s fun to pretend and I guess you walk away as either a winner for managing it or a loser for not managing it.
So given where we live, the best choices for us were Lincoln, Doncaster and Scunthorpe for the Escape Rooms. Lincoln however, has very “Lincoln” themed rooms – with themes like the Magna Carta, Lancaster Bomber, Time Machine (Tank related), and Lincoln Imp. None of these themes really appealed to us, so we narrowed it down to Scunthorpe and Doncaster fairly easily. Doncaster had Clueless Detective Agency, Ward 13 (Asylum), and Hostage. They have a new one called The Heist coming but that hasn’t opened yet. Scunthorpe only had two options, Sherwood and Prison. Since there wasn’t an awful lot of information or way to tell which would be best, we went for Scunthorpe as it was marginally nearer and since the Prison one had a higher difficulty rating, we went for that. In truth I think that Chris might have preferred to do Ward 13 but having never done anything like this before, I was a bit of a baby – wondering if there would be live action actors in there and then I’d get freaked out!
On the night of Chris’ birthday, after we’d had dinner, we all headed off to “Open the Door” in Scunthorpe. When we arrived, we had to read these information sheets about what we were or weren’t allowed to do, then we had to store all our coats, bags and especially phones, inside a locker. Next we had to split into two groups (though I think this was specific to this scenario). We were then blind folded and lead into the room, in the two separate groups. When we took off the blind folds, you could see why we had to break into two groups – because three of us were locked in one cell and three were locked in the other. Typically we had split into girls versus boys and I’m glad we did cos often boys annoy you when their methods are different to yours! The three of us girls worked well together too, so it all worked out.
First we had to figure out what was in the cell. There was writing on the wall, a tool box under the bed and a sink. We could also hear the boys, but not see them, as their cell was right next door to us. We could see out into the main part of the jail too – where a desk, mirror and lockers could be seen. While I don’t want to spoil the actual plot and clues for anyone who goes here, I will give you a rough idea of what we had to do – starting with the fact the boys found a torch in their sink pipe, so we thought to look in ours too and found one as well. We weren’t really against each other either, so it was nice to throw about ideas between the boys and the girls. The things on the wall lead us to believe we had to figure out some number combinations as we had two lots of combination locks in our cell. The boys had something handing from the ceiling they couldn’t reach and it turned out that one of our combination locks, opened a box that allowed a string to be lowered and they could reach the box! Anyway, we had to do multiple things in our cells, which eventually lead to finding a remote control car under the lockers out of the cell, which when driven to the cell, had keys in that meant we could unlock ourselves. Once in the main room, there were so many things we had to do, including get inside two lockers, figure out how the desk drawer unlocked, see if the telephone did anything, why the mirror was hinged etc. There was a jigsaw type puzzle, as well as some number/letter puzzles and it was really a lot of fun. In the end we made our way through to a secret room, where there was map and coordinated, a little laptop and a safe. We had so much fun and no one got mad and shouted at any point.
We made it out in 52 minutes, when the deadline is 60, so we were all pretty pleased with that. I will admit we did have a little help from the “admin” as they give you a walkie talkie and occasionally point you in the right direction. For our first experience though, it was a definite thumbs up and we all agreed it was something we would love to do again. After discussing it with the kids the next day, it also sounds like something they would like to do, so we hope to do another, maybe with the girls and even my mum. All in all, I loved the idea of the puzzles and a scenario where you need to escape. It wasn’t too hard but just the right amount of adrenaline pumping, in order to get you excited. From a specific perspective, the Open the Door rooms in Scunthorpe were actually easy to miss on the street and when we had mentioned them to the waitress at Frankie and Benny’s, she didn’t even know they existed. However the service we got was fantastic and friendly, we rated them 5 stars on facebook when we got back and I would be happy to recommend their rooms to anyone. As someone who loves to throw Murder Mystery parties, I have seen they now do at home Escape the Room games and I would definitely be up for trying that too.
Have you ever done an Escape Room?
Recently I’ve been finding it hard to make time for blogging. In the day time I work and due to not being fully recovered from this horrible illness, by evening my mind is a mess and there is no hope in hell for concentration. I have a list of so many things I want to catch up on, but every time I turn my laptop on, I just can’t be bothered – and that’s a horrible feeling. However, this morning we have an electrician round to check our electrics – all part of completing the sale on our house. He has taken over the dining table which is where I usually work and so I’m a bit lost for what to do. Then it hit me, that I could actually use that time to go on my laptop and blog – until of course, I realised that he’d turned off multiple plug sockets, including the one the router is in! So I’m sat here, typing this into notepad, hoping that I may still find time to place it on my blog later. After all, I’m going away for a few days tomorrow and if I don’t do it today, it may never get done!
Anyway, I’ve completely side-tracked from the post I was going to make… and that was about the musical “Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat”. Theatre has always been a massive passion of mine, especially musicals but really all genres. Ever since I was old enough, I bought a programme from every show I ever saw and I still have them all to this day. Wicked and Phantom of the Opera are my favourites, having seen Wicked three times and Phantom twice. I also love Starlight Express which I have seen three times too. I won’t spend forever listing all the theatre shows I’ve seen but needless to say I was really excited to hear that Lily’s school were going to tackle Joseph for their Y3/4 play this year. When Lily was cast as the Pharaoh I was even more thrilled. In the end, I made the technicolour dreamcoat for school and Lily’s pharaoh costume. Neither were anything special but school seemed pleased with them and the play was pretty good too.
Since Lily took such an interest in the play (she watched the DVD I bought her three times, before doing the performance) and loved all the songs, I decided I would look to see if Joseph was still touring, as I knew it had been last year. Sure enough, it was doing a new tour for 2017 and Joe McElderry was still playing Joseph. Funny enough, we had nearly gone to see the play last year, because my mum likes Joe McElderry so much but in the end we had decided not to book. Anyway, there were a few options to book, one before Lily’s play and a couple afterwards. A part of us wanted to watch it before, because she felt that would help her act it better, but I also knew the school play would be nothing like the real version so instead she could just continue the enjoyment afterwards. In the end we booked for Easter Weekend in Skegness, which fell about two weeks after Lily’s play.
When we got to the theatre, I bought a programme – it was only £4. We found our seats and they were pretty great to be honest. Lily ended up almost centre of the stage, with a good clear view. The play itself was really enjoyable. Lily sang along and danced in her seat and my enjoyment definitely came from seeing her enjoy it. I have seen Joseph three times before, so this was my fourth. I’m a little sad to say, that it was probably the “poorest” version I have seen, but unfortunately you often find that with touring shows as they have to keep a budget, make it easy to travel etc. That said, the cast was great and if you forget about the fact that people play multiple characters, it wasn’t really that bad. Lily loved it and that was definitely the most important part.
Though we had traveled in my mum’s car for the most part, we had driven to my mum’s in my car and so as soon as we were back in my car – the Joseph CD went on (Lily had convinced me to buy it at the intermission) and we sang along all the way home. When we got back, Lily asked for the CD and headed to her room to keep on listening, while lying on her bed and playing on her iPad. Once the Easter holidays ended, we put the CD back in the car and now listen to it most drives to and from school. All in all, Joseph was a great success but I do hope that it becomes a West End fixture again at some point as I would love for Lily to see the full quality version.
Do you like the theatre? What’s your favourite show?
Hey everyone! You may (or may not) have noticed my substantial absence from my blog this month. To begin with, I was just busy but for the last 3 weeks (maybe even a little more), I have been so ill that I haven’t even picked up my laptop! I haven’t updated about Lily’s birthday, going to see the Live Action Beauty and the Beast movie, or the Escape The Room game that we played for Chris’ birthday. To be honest, most of March is a bit of a blur now and we’re almost half way through April too.
So I’m writing this post by way of explaining why I haven’t been around. But I’m also hoping to go back and catch up too. After posting this, I’m going to write my March round-up. I can’t promise I’ll remember much but I will give it a try! During this coming week I hope to update on Chris’ Escape the Room at least as it was such a new experience for me, but hopefully some of the other things too. Anyway I’m sorry I was gone so long but hopefully I will go back to posting at least 2-3 times a week. With moving house soon we’re going to have some life changing/exciting times and I want to make sure I document it!
Just a quick update from me today and I also know I’m yet to do my February Round-up. However I couldn’t let today go by without wishing my youngest daughter Lily, a Happy Birthday. We’ve had a lovely day that’s involved opening presents, muffins for breakfast, building Lego, eating at Pizza Hut for lunch, catching up with family and then chilling out. I’m actually quite sad the day is over but I think some of that is knowing tomorrow is Monday and the school run begins again!
So once again, Happy 9th Birthday Lily. I can’t believe how much you’ve grown and what a beautiful, funny and smart girl you’re growing up to be.
Over the last few months my laptop has been slowly but surely dying! As such, blogging has become harder and more time consuming and often I’ve turned on my computer to write a post but given up due to how long it’s taking to do everything. So last week, I reformatted my laptop. It took several attempts as Windows 10 simply refused to let me restart, giving me an error every time I tried, so in the end I went old school and did it via bios and a disk. Unfortunately this has meant reverting to Windows 7 as that’s what my laptop originally came with but I have to admit that its much faster and my laptop doesn’t seem to be overheating and switching itself off now either.
Anyway, this evening I have spent my time re-installing everything back onto the laptop, like Microsoft Office, Paint Shop Pro etc. as well as importing my bookmarks, sorting out all my saved files into a neat place and really just making my laptop feel useable again. I definitely hope this means I will be back to blogging more often as I have movie updates about “Sing” and “The Lego Batman Movie” to make, as well as what we did for Valentine’s Day as a family AND some chocolate recipes that Lily and I will be working on tomorrow. So really I just wanted to add a quick update to apologise for the silence here on my blog and to assure you that it was just temporary and I hope to be back more often now!
After seeing Star Wars: Rogue One the other day, which technically is a 2016 movie, I decided it might be exciting to look at what is being released in 2017. As you probably know, I absolutely love movies. I try hard to keep up with new releases at the cinema but unfortunately being a mum and working for myself, often get in the way. While there wasn’t as many movies to look forward to as I expected, here’s what I found.
A Monster Calls is by far the movie to look out for at the beginning of the year. I have to admit it wasn’t even on my radar until Megan told me she was reading the book at school, then I noticed there was a film release by the same name. When we went to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I saw a trailer and I was sold. I have to say, I still don’t know an awful lot about the storyline but I’d definitely like to see it. Otherwise, I don’t know anything about the other movies being released in January though I have seen previous XXX movies and I’m not fussed about Underworld.
Another quiet month is February, with the only movie we’re likely to see being The LEGO Batman movie. Again I don’t know a huge amount about the movie and I wasn’t even a massive fan of the Lego Movie, but Lily is massively into Batman right now and Chris always has been so I have a feeling we’ll be squeezing that into our half term. Fifty Shades Darker is also another major movie out that month but it doesn’t hold any interest for me.
Maybe I’m just not very up on new movies but March also seems quiet for movies I want to see. My top pick by far is Beauty and the Beast, even though I’m skeptical about the Live Action version. Disney’s animated version is my absolute favourite movie and so while I may hold my breath whilst watching, I still can’t wait to see it. Also on the list for March is Logan as a possibility. I do love Hugh Jackman, especially as Wolverine so this will be a consideration. There is a Power Rangers movie out that I’m sure will be popular, as might Ghost in the Shell but again, no interest.
Just in time for Easter holidays, is yet another Smurf movie. This is called Smurfs: The Lost Village and while I did enjoy the other two movies, there is no Neil Patrick Harris in these so I’m not sold yet. Sadly there is nothing else that grabs me for April either! There is yet another Fast and the Furious movie out this month but sadly I gave up watching them some time ago.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is out in May and this could well be the only movie I want to see in May. I loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy and I am a huge superhero movie fan (especially Marvel) so this will be a must. I have no idea what it will be like but fingers crossed it will be good and not a terrible sequel. I notice also that there is an Alien movie – Alien: Covenant – but I’ve heard nothing about that and can only assume it’s connected somehow to the Alien movies by it’s title. There is also another PotC movie out, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales but I have to admit I haven’t even seen the last one yet, despite liking the first couple. There is a Baywatch movie too but… well no comment.
Wonder Woman is out in June and while I haven’t seen Batman Vs Superman yet (nor am I in any rush) from what I can understand, Wonder Woman stood out as much as Spider Man did in Captain America: Civil War. Lily is massively into the DC girls at the moment so depending on it’s rating, we may see it with the kids. However Chris has also always been into DC more than Marvel so I’m sure we’ll be going no matter what. Chris mentioned seeing The Mummy but I don’t really understand it as a movie. Is it a re-make of the first one or just a movie by the same name? Also Tom Cruise is in it so…
Cars 3 is also out in June but I haven’t seen Cars 2 yet, despite owning it on DVD! I’m definitely not as into the Cars/Planes movies for Pixar as I am some of their others but no doubt Cars 3 will get seen, even if its not at the movies. June is clearly THE month for movies, even if not great ones. Despicable Me 3 is also out, as is Transformers: The Last Knight. I liked Despicable Me (the first one) but not so much 2 and I’ve always been a Transformers fan but I didn’t see the last one at the cinema and so I doubt I will see this one there either.
As I mentioned in June about Wonder Woman, the new Spider Man definitely stood out in his role in CA:CW. I loved Tobey Maguire as Spider Man and while I had mixed feelings about re-casting, I liked Andrew Garfield too (though I still haven’t seen The Amazing Spider Man 2). I’m really hoping this new Spider Man: Homecoming movie will be great, but even if not there will be a few minutes of Robert Downey Jr and so that’s a win. Apparently there is an Untitled Disney Movie set for this month too (Live Action) so I’m sure that’s something we’ll be keeping an eye out for!
There is absolutely nothing scheduled for August that grabs me as a must-see movie, or even a maybe see movie. In fact, something called The Emoji Movie is coming out and that just makes me roll my eyes.
There is nothing in September either, though an Untitled Sony Animation vaguely has my interest. There seems to be a Flatliners remake and I’m not sure how I feel about that either.
Despite not thinking there would be another Saw movie out, Saw: Legacy is being released in October. That said, I never have and never will see a Saw movie at the cinema, despite loving them, as I’d be too scared about freaking out. Instead we will likely wait for it to arrive on DVD. Nothing else grabs me, especially Blade Runner and Cloverfield sequels (or remakes?). There is a My Little Pony movie which, if desperate, we may see with the kids.
Thor: Ragnarok is out in November and since he didn’t star in the most recent Captain America movie, I’m definitely having Thor withdrawal. That said, I didn’t see Thor 2 for ages after it was released and November can be a little busy so I guess we’ll have to see. Also out in November is Justice League and while I really want to love it (and see it of course), I have huge concerns as to the quality of some of the more recent DC movies, namely Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman.
Not a huge Star Wars fan but Star Wars VIII is out and we are bound to go see it as Chris loves Star Wars. Pitch Perfect 3 is out too and I LOVE the Pitch Perfect movies. December is a little unfortunate in timing as we’re always busy but hopefully we’ll make time. I believe there is also an Untitled WB movie due out in December but no doubt more will be released about that nearer the time. There is also Jumanji which I’m sure will be popular generally but probably won’t be something we see.
If anyone has any recommendations, about any I haven’t mentioned, I would love to know. I don’t keep as up to date on movies as I would like to at the moment so I’m always happy to learn more!
January is flying past and it feels a little late to be updating about Christmas. However we had such a great holiday period, that I don’t want to let it pass by without a mention. Also, with not doing a November or December round-up, I wanted to make sure I at least briefly covered that period of time.
For some people, Christmas begins with the Coca Cola truck advert, but for me Christmas begins with Starbucks Red Cups. Sadly this is getting earlier and earlier every year (as are many Christmas things) which often results on the christmasy things being few and far between, instead of compact into a few weeks of December. Anyway, I won’t rant about that! So in November, Starbucks released their red cups and as a family we took a trip to get one (12th), each trying a different flavour (as is the tradition). Next came the Christmas Light switch on, November 18th, which has become tradition as a family too. We walk into town, look around the market and get food, then sometimes coffee too and then watch the light switch on and firework display. It started to rain this year which almost sent us home early but we stuck it out and actually really enjoyed ourselves.
This was really all the excitement for November and next came December. On literally the 1st, I started attending Lincoln Christmas Market. Usually we attend to visit, once during the four days its there, but this year I was actually selling there with Closet Geek. It was such a great experience, but very tiring and the preparation before hand was insane. I don’t regret it at all, but I won’t be doing it in 2017, partly because it falls too close to Megan’s birthday.
The following weekend was Megan’s birthday, which despite not being a Christmas event, often feels like it’s part of the celebration. On Saturday (the day before her birthday) the Coca Cola Christmas truck was in Lincoln so we traveled over to see that and get a mini coke can. The next day, Megan’s birthday, we took her and some of her friends, to Pizza Hut and then family joined us too, for a family lunch to celebrate.
After such a busy start to December (which Christmas Market, lots of school events – including a school disco that Megan got a date for! – and of course Megan’s birthday) we didn’t get time to put up the tree till 17th. Strangely enough this didn’t actually bother me as much as I thought it would, making me feel more Christmasy than when we put it up early.
As always, we put on the Christmas music cds, wear silly hats and glasses and put up the tree. Megan made us hot chocolate too and it was actually a lovely family event. Afterwards we sat and went through the TV pages to pick which movies we wanted to set to record.
The kids had two more days of school after the weekend we put the tree up and while this was a shame, as we were all ready to be on a break, it went fast and we celebrated as always, with a trip to Pizza Hut after school on the last day of term. This one in December always seems silly as we’re only there for Megan’s birthday a week or so before but we do it anyway! Later that week, the girls and I had to go to Doncaster for some last minute Christmas bits and pieces, so I treated them to a wash, cut and blowdry from Supercuts. I won’t tell you the exact price, but just for the two of them, it was over £50 (!!) which definitely surprised me but it was part of their Christmas treat so I didn’t let it bother me too much.
As part of the trip to Doncaster, we finished sorting out Christmas Outfits for the girls, as I already had my sorted from Simply Be. Their tops had come from Boohoo.com, we picked up their trousers at H&M, then I popped to ShoeZone on the way home and grabbed the boots. The following day we also picked up our Christmas Hamper from the girls grandparents (as is their tradition) so coming home and unpacking that was fun too.
Soon it was Christmas Eve and that holds a whole host of traditions for us. First is, my mum and sister come around and we do Christmas Eve presents. That was edited a little this year as now both kids know about Santa and we don’t have to play it so young. We used to exchange Christmas PJs, Christmas Lush and a book to read for a bedtime story. However this year it was decided we wouldn’t wrap anything (as the kids know we do it as a tradition now and its just waste of paper) and instead of a book we would get a board game. When mum and Pippa arrived, we had hot chocolate, Baileys, a glass of sherry etc and as the girls were already having their traditional Christmas Eve bath, they got dressed into their new pjs. Afterwards, once Chris had arrived too, we played a board game and then finally mum and Pippa went home. After they were gone, Chris and I had baths, the girls did their reindeer food (some traditions don’t always need giving up!) and hung up their stockings.
Christmas Day was spent in the same way as always. The girls woke and came into our room, bringing their stockings with them. They took it in turns to open their gifts, before Chris and I did our stockings. Next we all got dressed and headed downstairs. We had crumpets and muffins for breakfast, plus tea and coffee for Chris and I. Next we opened the gifts under the tree, taking it in turns to each open one. Once all were opened, the girls played and opened some of their boxes/toys/gifts, while Chris and I sorted out rubbish, had another cuppa etc. Mum and Pippa turned up a little while later and we opened gifts between us all. Then we got in the car and headed to Chris’ Gran’s house, to see her and his dad. Again we exchanged gifts. We then headed to my brother’s house, where we would be having lunch. We exchanged gifts for the kids (as we had agreed not to do them for adults) and then had lunch. It was lovely and very relaxed. My mum then drove us home, but kept the girls with her as she later drops them off with their dad for the afternoon and evening. Chris played on his new Xbox game while I snoozed on the sofa, then in the evening we watched some TV. That was pretty much our Christmas Day.
Boxing Day was a nice quiet day, with the girls arriving home and everyone just spending time with their new presents and relaxing. The day after, we had another family day but at my Auntie’s house and this was wonderful as I got to see my cousins for the first time in ages and I’m hoping it becomes another tradition. In the few days between Christmas and New Year, we didn’t really do an awful lot. We ate cheese, drank wine, watched movies, played board games and basically just hung out as a family. It was pretty fantastic.
On New Year’s Eve, Chris was working till 6pm but then we had family time planned. We ate a huge cheese based dinner, drank wine (the girls had a little strawberry and lime cider) and spent time together. We opened our New Year resolutions from last year (and laughed because we failed most of them) then watched the music channel until midnight as there was nothing much on. At midnight we popped some fizz, had a toast, stayed up just a little longer and then finally headed to bed.
On New Year’s Day, my mum, sister, brother, his partner and her son, all came around for lunch. I made lasagne with garlic bread and salad, then served profiteroles with cream and ice cream. Afterwards we all played a great game on the Xbox called Jackbox.tv and had another lovely family day. That was basically our whole Christmas and New Year, both fantastic and hectic at times. The girls only had two more days off school after that, before they went back to school and then it felt like it was all a blur and Christmas was long forgotten! I’m looking forward to 2017 however and I hope that everyone enjoyed their Christmas period and is looking forward to the New Year too.
On New Year’s Eve I wrote a post reflecting on 2016 and so today I want to look forward to 2017. As it’s already 3rd January I’m sure it’s probably clear that a whole “new me” is not on the horizon. I think I’ve learned from previous years, that that’s not the best route for me. Instead little changes, positive attitude and a hope for better things, is the direction I would like to go.
This Year I will:
- Get a better grip on my finances. As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I have a lot of debt – largely from my time as a single mum (I mean, I’m technically still a single mum but I have a very supportive partner now). For a few years, I just buried my head and the debt got worse but then two years ago it all hit me and I had to stop avoiding it. 2016 was the year I finally started to get that debt down and while I definitely managed to stop adding to it and clear one particular lump of debt, I still have a fair way to go. I have a specific target in mind by the end of the year and that will hopefully lessen my debt by about a third.
- Work hard on my business, Closet Geek. It would be a lie to say I don’t work hard on it already as to be honest its my main focus, after the kids. I have thoroughly enjoyed working from home this last year and despite how crazy busy it has gotten at times, I wouldn’t change a thing. This year I am aiming to add at least 6 more product ranges (don’t ask me what, I have no idea yet) and hopefully more variations of the products I already sell. That said, I must remember to take time out and relax (which is hard because I often get into a flow).
- Weight Loss is something I want to focus on this year. I haven’t jumped into any kind of diet yet as there is still a lot of bad food kicking around the house. However I am trying to regulate myself and not eat too my rubbish and when routine starts over again and I start cooking evening meals from scratch, I aim to make healthy dishes and avoid any junk. Last year I felt uncomfortable in my skin and it stopped me from dressing up, cosplaying and even feeling like I wanted to make any sort of effort. Its amazing what a knock on effect feeling overweight can have to all areas of life. I also want to try walking more often, especially as life isn’t so hectic that I need to save every minute of time by hopping in the car.
- Last year was a wonderful change to family life, working from home instead of feeling stressed in the job I had previously (I actually can’t believe I walked out on that job 2 years ago – I’ve honestly never regretted it). I managed to attend so many of the kids events at school and I’m sure I will be doing so again this year. That said I want to make time outside of those events, to do things as a family. The kids love to play board games (we had a day doing that during holiday), go swimming and play computer games (Lily and I have played Lego Harry Potter for most days of the holidays) so I want to make more time for fun, not just scheduled events. I also want to make more time for Chris as he often gets neglected, just because he “understands more”. On evenings when he’s not at work, I need to step away from my sewing or even my computer and just be with him – doing whatever it is we feel like doing.
- Moving house is definitely top of the list for things I’d like to do in 2017. Sadly not a huge amount of that decision is in our hands, but we need to try wherever possible. From the house going on the market last April, till now, we’ve only had two viewings. I think there has been many reasons to that but largely the price recommended by the agents is too high. We do have another viewing tomorrow so we will see how that goes but at some point this year we will have to make some firmer decisions – perhaps to change agents, sell at a loss, or whatever other options there might be.
- During January I have a weekend away booked with the girls, to Disneyland Paris. However as much as I’m looking forward to it, I’d really like a nice week away somewhere abroad. Top choice for this year would definitely be Italy and ideally during the warm weather. Chris booking holidays at work can be a pain though as he can often only get out of school holiday time. With Megan now at secondary school I am loathed to take them out of school for a holiday, so it’s definitely going to be a juggling act – and of course available money. If we can’t get away this year, I would definitely love to book something bigger for next year – maybe a two week holiday somewhere further afield like the US.
This Year I will try:
- Yesterday I was in a position (as I often am) where one of the girls asked if we could do something (something they had been asking for a while and have been saying “soon” to) and my immediate answer was “yes, tomorrow”. Now although that might seen immediate to you, it’s really only because it was that day or tomorrow that we needed to do it, before it was too late. But my reaction was still the latter, not the actual immediate. However after I walked away, I thought “actually, why can’t we just do it now?” and so that’s what we did. Basically I really want to stop putting things off till tomorrow and just get on with them. Because tomorrow never really comes and before you realise it, you’ve been putting everything off and never getting anything done.
- When we went swimming, the girls and I, I was reminded of how much I enjoy it and, that despite not going very often, I’m still pretty good at it. While I don’t always want to go when they suggest it, I did realise I could take them and just watch (they’re both old enough now), but also I could go when they’re at school and just swim lengths. It would be a great way to make time for me, get fitter and even find time to shower! I don’t want to set myself a frequency but I would like to swim more.
- As I mentioned last year, our friendship group is a little bit fractured now and so in the past 12 months I haven’t thrown any large group events. I think its probably easiest to just see each group of working friendships, by themselves, whenever there is time, rather than force everyone to get together. Last year we did enjoy a meal out as a group of friends, a cinema trip as a double date and a few times having friends around for dinner. I would like to continue that this year, making more of an effort but hopefully making time for everyone.
- Finally I should probably give my blog a mention. At this time of year it’s always easy to say “I’ll post more”, or “I’ll post frequently” but the truth is when life gets busy, my blog takes a backseat. I also often find that I lose inspiration for what to write at times and it can become just one big life update that people probably aren’t that interested in. I’m ditching Project 52 (as I did towards the end of last year) as I always forget to take pictures weekly). Instead I might do something monthly, as I did with my round-ups (which definitely suits me better so I will be sticking to those). I’d like to keep updating about books I read (which maybe should have been another bulletpoint as I really should read more) and movies we see at the cinema but past that I’m uncertain of the direction my blog will take. I am considering various options though so watch this space!